In some ways, the styling of affordable wines is just as interesting to me as the achievements of great, no-holds-barred labels. It’s a mantra nowadays that with great fruit, the wine “just makes itself;” even allowing for hyperbole, that does suggest there may be a bit more thought required to make average grapes into wine that’s both accessible and enjoyable.
One option is to make the sorts of cheerfully anonymous wines that, I admit, have their place in the industry and in many peoples’ lives. Another is this – a clearly artisanal wine from a small producer in Puligny-Montrachet that comes in at, given the context, a decent price.
The approach here is one of moderation. The fruit that went into this wine seems of modest quality – it’s too sweet-edged and simply flavoured to be truly fine. But it’s clean, and the winemaking that surrounds it has given it enough counterpoint to frame it with graceful appropriateness. The aroma mixes bright, bouncy fruit with overlays of mealiness. The fruit, at first, showed a slightly distressing pineapple character, but that has mostly blown off and settled to a still-bright but more attractive melon note. There’s no complexity to speak of, but it’s a delicate, polite aroma that knows its boundaries and works well within them.
The palate is fresh and flavoursome, with moderately intense waxed lemon fruit and oatmeal. Here again the fruit edges towards a confectionary vibe and is held in check by savouriness that seems winemaker-led. The fact that it’s not overly driven works in its favour; there’s nothing outsize about this wine, and that means its limitations as well as its strengths are modest. A nice creamy after palate leads through to a finish that is fresh and juicy, with only a hint of sweetness marring the flavour profile. Acid is fine. Serving this wine on the cool side helps to temper the fruit’s more vulgar tendencies.
Some wines seem to squander their potential; this makes the most of its humble beginnings. Nothing more than cheap Chardonnay, really, but a little marvel of styling nonetheless, and attractive for its honesty.
Domaine Alain Chavy